Millions of people in the United States have dentures, or false teeth, and one of the most popular ways to keep these teeth in place is to use denture cream.
Some denture creams, like Fixodent, are made with zinc, which helps reduce odor and keeps the dentures stuck to the gums. Unfortunately, using these creams can cause a serious medical condition - zinc poisoning (hyperzincemia).
What are the signs and symptoms of zinc poisoning? High amounts of zinc in the body effect people differently. Some of the symptoms of zinc poisoning you could experience include weakness and numbness of the limbs, tingling in your hands and feet, poor balance and lack of coordination, strange sensations (like burning or the feeling of wearing gloves or socks when your skin is actually bare), fever, shaking, vomiting or diarrhea, yellowing of the whites of your eyes, low blood pressure, liver conditions, a metallic taste, pain that can't be explained, and rashes. You may experience all of these symptoms or just a few of these symptoms.
Why is zinc dangerous? Zinc is actually a necessary nutrient for your body. Too much, however, will cause major problems with how your red blood cells work. The recommended amounts of zinc are 11 mg per day for men and 8 mg per day for women. Anything over 40 mg per day is potentially dangerous, but with some denture creams, you could be exposed to over 300 mg per day. Zinc works hand in hand with copper, and if you have too much zinc in your body, the amount of copper will be depleted, causing many of the neurological and neuropathy problems listed above.
Can zinc poisoning be cured? With major amount of zinc, like you'll find with snakebites, the victim could actually die. That's not likely to happen with denture creams, but that doesn't mean there aren't serious implications. When you stop using the denture cream and are treated, the zinc will eventually leave your body, returning to normal levels. However, some of the side effects could actually last forever, depending on the amounts of zinc that entered your body and the length of time you were ingesting it.
What can I do if I've been poisoned by zinc? First and foremost, see a doctor. If you experience any of the symptoms of zinc poisoning, talk to a medical professional immediately and stop using the denture cream until you do, making sure to get tested within the week so the zinc is still present in your body. You have legal rights too, though. As soon as you are able, talk to a lawyer about getting compensation for your medical bills, pain, lost wages, and more.